After struggling to easily find the right items to furnish her own apartment, Kuldea Co-Founder, Deirdre Mc Gettrick, was inspired to create an online platform to make home shopping as straightforward, efficient and fulfilling as possible. Here, she talks about the top tips to consider when furnishing a home office or study.
According to data from the Office of National Statistics the number of UK workers who have moved into remote-working has increased by nearly a quarter of a million over the past decade. Thanks to changing attitudes around work/life balance and improving network capabilities, this number is predicated to increase over the next 3 years, with a recent Trade Union Congress survey finding that an additional 4 million workers would prefer the flexibility to work off-site.
If you are one of those making the move to work from home, it’s important that you have a work space that is comfortable and inviting, where you can focus and concentrate.
Whether your home office will be located in an annex, a small bedroom or an alcove underneath the stairs, these essential top tips will help you transform whatever space you have into a beautiful and practical design where you can work effectively and productively…
Top tip 1) Think about functionality and the location you have
Home offices come in many different shapes and sizes and the key to selecting the right furnishings is to think about where and when you do your work, and the associated functional requirements.
If you are a busy working parent, a kitchen desk area may be the ideal place for you to fit work in between the rest of daily life. However, if you’re working at home five days a week, you’ll want to select a space that’s away from the flow and distractions of your household. Will you have clients or customers visit during the day? If so, you’ll need to plan for some additional seating to allow for sit-down meetings. Will the space also be used by children to do homework, or will it need to include a comfy sofa if it doubles up as a-chill out room when not being used for serious work?
If you don’t have the luxury of a separate room it doesn’t mean you have to compromise on high-quality work space. You could section off part of a larger room and claim it as your office with clever screening or curtains to act as a divider to separate the area.
Top tip 2) Allow enough space and do a floor plan
Once you have set the location of your office, make sure you allow enough space to work comfortably within it. Ask yourself if you will be able to move easily from side to side, stand up and sit back from your desk.
It’s often easy to underestimate how much space you need, so laying out a floor plan is a good way to start to make sure you can meet all your requirements and visualise your office design before purchasing furniture.
Put some thought into any specialist equipment you need in addition to a computer depending on your line of work, and then plan the best furniture to accommodate these items.
Also think about how you will need to organise you work. If you have to keep printed records, a robust filing cabinet or shelving unit will be a must. However, if you can keep pretty much everything digitally, use the space for something more inspirational, like a great feature armchair for example!
Top tip 3) A decent desk and comfortable chair
Buying a desk and chair that are ergonomically suited to your practical work and physical needs will be essential to creating a productive workstation and preventing back and shoulder pain.
Make sure your desk is big enough to fit both your computer and anything else necessary to do your work without the need to squeeze. Ideally, your desk should be a minimum of 120cm (48”) wide, although around 150cm (60”) wide or larger if you have the space is likely to be the most comfortable. Around 70-75cm (28”-30”) is generally a good height.
A good quality office chair should accommodate everyone who needs to use it and be suited to the workstation, allowing you to sit close enough to the desk with your feet flat on the floor. Ideally it will be adjustable to support your body and allow for a natural, free posture.
From a design point of view, your desk/chair combo will likely become the focal point of your office and lead to the style you want to achieve. There are many designs available, from foldable bureaus, compact laptop tables, wall ladders, corner desks, or larger height adjustable and extendable desks. Desks can be sleek and contemporary with glass tops, traditional and weighty with deep wood effects, have built in drawers and cupboards or separate wheeled trolleys to fit neatly underneath. Materials span from budget-friendly self-assembly MDF to handcrafted solid timber pieces.
Similarly there’s a wide range of chair options, from the corporate look with swivel functions to highly stylish with designer features. Depending on the design you choose, your office chair could be multifunctional and double up as an extra dining or lounge chair when you aren’t working. While the choice is broad, keeping functionality, space and visual impact in mind will help you search more effectively for the best pieces for you.
Top tip 4) Light up your work
Good lighting is critical for any home office space and having some natural light is preferable. Position your desk to face the windows or in a location where your computer screen will not be affected by glare; translucent window shades or blinds can help reduce any brightness without darkening your room. You can also enhance the natural light by including a mirror for both a stylish and spacious effect.
An overhead ceiling light or spotlights will provide good general lighting, as will floor lamps placed in the corners of your room to illuminate and open up the space; you could use daylight bulbs in your light fixtures for an extra boost. A desk light will provide focused task lighting, especially in the evenings, and lights fitted underneath wall shelving can have a soft, enlightening effect to create an inspirational ambiance.
Home office lighting doesn’t need to follow the same generic, corporate design as it traditionally does in the workplace. Whilst it’s useful to choose pieces that have some distinction from the rest of your home interior, styles that are really pleasing to you and have features you enjoy will create a welcoming work space where you really want to be.
Top tip 5) Select savvy storage and shelving
Suitable storage can really affect your productivity by keeping everything you need to work effectively, organised and close by.
Consider the workflow connected to your profession – what comes in, where will it stay while being worked on, and where does it go when complete? Make sure storage for immediate items will allow for it to be kept within arm’s reach without the need for endless rummaging, and use smaller storage items such as an in-tray or split-side storage boxes, available in a range of colours and designs, to keep your day-to-day filing system nearby.
When setting out your original office floor plan, make sure to allow for large items of storage furniture such as filing cabinets, cupboards or shelving but again, don’t be limited by stereotypical office furniture. If you are aiming to create a more homely look, furniture usually found elsewhere in the house like sideboards, chests of drawers and side tables can work beautifully in your office – just make sure they offer the space and organisation you need.
As home offices are generally quite small, you can also maximize your vertical square footage by going upwards with your storage. Adding floating shelves or installing cabinets up the wall can look really effective as well as being a clever space-saver.
Top tip 6) Accessorize, personalize and go clutter free
The great part about working from home is that YOU can decide how you want your office to look and feel, so don’t limit yourself or sacrifice on style just because this is a work space.
You’ll be more efficient in a room that makes you feel happy so incorporate items you love and that are personal and inspirational to you. This could be a favourite piece of artwork or prints, candles, plants, trinkets, photographs, motivational quotes, mood boards or soft furnishings such as cushions, throws and rugs – all will help get you in a creative frame of mind when you sit down to work, as well as shaping the overall interior style you want to achieve.
But be careful not to go overboard though – remember this is a room where one needs to be productive, and too much of a mish-mash of ‘stuff’ can have a busy, chaotic effect.
Think about taming your technology when styling your room too. One of the biggest eye sores in a home office is the multitude of cables and wires that connect up work-essential equipment, so use ties, command hooks or attachments under your desk to keep unsightly wires discreetly hidden away, or try a wireless routers, keyboard or mouse. You’ll be amazed at the way simply removing a muddle of cords will make your office feel clean, bright and stylised.
Top tip 7) Think in colour
Design psychology has a big part to play in home office design, and the colours you surround yourself with can have a real impact on your state of mind.
Take your mental approach, as well as personal preference, into account when choosing the colour scheme for your work room. Cooler blue and grey shades can have a soothing effect and promote clear thought and concentration, but brighter colours, like yellow and orange, help spark creativity and energy.
Darker, more intense colours, can look very stylish, especially if your study will double up as a room for reading or relaxing too, but they can be less stimulating on the days you do need to be productive!
A failsafe rule of thumb is to keep your space light and airy, but you could consider painting one wall with a bolder colour to keep the momentum flowing. Even if you only have a very small work space in a corner of another room, you could always create a feature backdrop around this area to designate its function, and still benefit from the positive effect of your favourite colours.